to Li De la Russe

typed for your pleasure on 9 January 2007, at 11.57 am

Sdtrk: ‘Der Rauber und der Prinz’ by DAF

Not so much earlier than right now, I had the vague stirrings of an altogether different post in mind, but then I saw the following clip of Delia Derbyshire, the doyenne of musique concrète during the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s heyday, posted to YouTube and decided, ‘well, that other post is gonna have to wait a wee bit longer.’



Delia Derbyshire is one of the earliest and most influential electronic sound synthesists in history. She was musically active from 1962 until the mid seventies, then briefly again for a few years before she died in 2001 at the age of 64.

Although her revolutionary sounds are familiar to over a hundred million people through the theme to the television series “Doctor Who” and the seminal album of 1969 “An Electric Storm” she was hardly ever credited and her name is almost unknown. The bulk of her musical production and atmospheric sound for television and radio programmes is on tape in the BBC Sound Archives. Her own personal collection of tapes was also consigned to the archive on her death and since then only three new tracks have been released on compilation albums with music from other composers. Most will probably never be heard again. A catalogue was made of the Archives, but it has not been published.
taken from this site

Gods, she’s so hot, both physically and creatively. And keep in mind that she and the other premiere members of the Radiophonic workshop, namely John Baker and David Cain, were creating things such as loops and sequencing with analogue equipment. No fancy ProTools or laptop magick here, which makes what they did all the more astounding. I recall seeing another interview with her on the recent DVD for ‘An unearthly child’, the first ever Doctor Who episode, and she was saying that sometimes they would make tapeloops that would literally run the length of a hallway. And naturally, everything was hand-spliced back then. Hand-spliced. Can you imagine?
And yes, I absolutely melted when I heard the way she pronounced ‘punctuating’.

Would you like to learn more about Delia Derbyshire, the woman who helped revolutionise 20th century music? Yes, yes you would. Why not stop round the appropriately-named delia-derbyshire.org, and kill an hour or two?

Technorati tags: Delia Derbyshire, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Musique concrète

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Daylight savings time has me all screwed up on April 3rd, 2005

Less convenient, yet much more alluring, than a Walkman on November 26th, 2013

4 have spoken to “to Li De la Russe”

  1. PBShelley writes:

    Heya DC & the evar-exquisite Sidore-chan,

    Fascinating bit! Did you not do an earlier piece on her as well, ‘cos it seems I’ve seen this before. Unless I can *see into the future*!!!

    I was always sure that I had something with her on it, but not until I saw “An Electric Storm” referenced above. So I went through my albums (vinyl disk-like thingies) and sure enough, found it! Been playing it for the first time in like 20 years whilst (trying to) compose this. “Interesting!”

    Another member of Radiophonic she worked with was Paddy Kingsland, who did the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” radio programme sounds. August company, all-in-all!

    Tape splicing… yum! I once made a splicing of several Alan Holdsworth/John Etheridge guitar solos into a twenty-minute long ass-kicker! I still have it, but my reel-to-reel passed on, sadly. Took forever to do, too. Things sure were different, back in the ol- um, “back in tha day” LOL

    Anyway, these sounds are very distracting to write during, so I’ll just say, “Ta!” (Incidentally, Delia is not heard on the record, the voices being accredited to others, unless she’s one of the many spoken ones.)

    PBS, Lily, & Eden

  2. Davecat writes:

    PBS and ladies –
    Wow, you have the original ‘An electric storm’ on vinyl?? That’s probably worth quite a bt of dosh, but common sense dictates that you keep that fecker, as it’s too enjoyable to let go… I first heard it, via INTERNET PIRATES, about a year ago, and was naturally impressed. However, since my tastes tend to lean towards the more experimental ends of the musical spectrum, I favour the BBC Radiophonic reissue, only because it has the excellent ‘Ziw-zih ziw-zih OO-OO-OO’ on it, which was a featured track in Shi-chan’s Radio.blog, back when that was up. Any way you slice it, though, if it’s Delia, it’s fantastic…

    You might want to save your pence, err, pennies, for the reissue of Electrosonic. My mate Zip Gun managed to score a copy, the lucky bastard. It’s on 180 gram mint green vinyl! There’s always too much stuff to buy. *sighs*

    And to be honest, I didn’t actually make a whole slavering post about Ms Derbyshire before, but I did make previous mention. You don’t really have the ability to see into the future, but you’ve got excellent recall skills. 😉

  3. PBShelley writes:

    Hm… I recall that post, but the clip you linked to in this one I’d seen before; perhaps you ICQ’d it to me, er somethin’? Honestly, I don’t know anyone else who would know of her, unless my Kate Forum had a thread about her…

    Too much stuff to buy… *sigh* tell me about it LOL Whenever I get some money, I’ll look into Electrosonic; I’d like the absinthe-green vinyl, please 😀

    “An Electric Storm” is a keeper; one of the last “twiddly” electonique albums that I own. (Once you move on to Klaus Schulze/Tangerine Dream, there’s no turning back!) I bought AES in 1975 after hearing on a Virgin Records sampler a piece by D. Vorhaus that I believe is still not released called “White Noise II”. No mention of Delia anywhere, so this may be a different project. Says all sounds performed on the Kaleidophon synthesizer in the Kaleidophon studios, so I’ll bet she can’t be far behind 😉

    And I was interested in hearing “Ziw-zih…” just from the title! And now there is ADDED interest, the best kind (unless it’s financial LOL).

    Ah yes… in the pre-punk days, Richard Branson’s small, independant Virgin Records presented a LOT of great music, and single-handedly kept the Canterburian Sound alive. Then he hadda go and get rich *rollie-eyes smiley*

    Thanks for the Delia clips, carry on!

    PBS & the etcs

  4. SafeTinspector writes:

    I wish that clip were longer. I want to hear the rest, and watch her hit buttons and turn knobs.
    Click! Ca-chunk! Whirrrrrr!

Leave a charming reply